Sunday, January 31, 2010

Imbolc Open Circle

The night started with all of us who weren't active participants in the ritual (calling the quarters or being the maiden, mother, or crone) gathered in the fellowship hall of the UU building we were borrowing. Those who were familiar with the chants for the ritual taught them to the rest of us (simple, repetitive and beautiful). It really set a tone for the rest of the ritual.

When the time came for the ritual, we all formed a line and slowly processed into the main room of the UU building. The room was darkened except for the candlelight. The circle was marked by a large ring of battery operated tea lights (beautiful without the risk of fire in someone else's building). Each quarter had a small alter with several candles and the symbols of its element and there was a raised fire pit with a small fire in it as well. We followed the inner edge of the circle, chanting "The Wheel Turns" and after everyone walked the entire circle once we spread out evenly along the edge. With chants interspersed throughout - the circle was closed, the quarters were called, the Lady was invoked in her three-fold maiden/mother/crone form (poor Lord was ignored). We all (who wanted to) participated in a working involving holding a ring, setting a goal or intention into the ring, heating the ring in the flame, setting it on an anvil and striking it with the hammer and then quenching the ring in the water from the cauldron. Basically, it was an opportunity to ask the Lady's blessing on a goal for the year ahead and affirm it through action. Then we were led on a guided meditation (not my favorite. I prefer silent meditation) based on the Imbolc tradition. We shared milk and cookies (yummy). The quarters were thanked and released and the circle was opened.

Overall I really liked my first Open Ritual (normally my exposure to formalized rituals is participating with Honey in a Wiccan style ritual). It seemed a little one sided because while the Lady/Moon/Goddess was referenced several times the Lord/Sun/God was completely ignored (kinda sad since Sabbats are supposed to be Sun based holidays). But it was an opportunity to meet other local Pagans and see how they celebrate. The set up was really well done and they were able to invoke a very otherworldly and mystical feeling in a very regular space. Not to mention the great potluck afterwords. Everyone brought great food and a lot of the offerings were traditional Imbolc foods. I brought some of the Raspberry Chipolte Sauce I made last fall with cream cheese to pour it on and crackers to spread them on. I figured Imbolc is still the winter season of eating from the stores (preserved food), the time of calving (dairy), and spicy food for the growing sun (chipolte).

The chants at the Ritual were -

The Wheel Turns
Brid is Come
Tall Tree
Everything She Touches
Holy Well and Sacred Flame

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Imbolc Open Circle Prep Night

This evening, we went to help set up for tomorrow's Open Circle for Imbolc. Afterward, there was an opportunity for fellowship and a little bit of a bardic type event. It was an opportunity for those of us who were new to get to know the rest of the group and everyone to trade Imbolc lore from their particular tradition. Overall pretty awesome and casual. One of the organizers brought her henna and gave designs to those who wanted it.



One wrist had the symbol for the Lady and one has the Lord. She sealed it with some sugary lemon juice (the white flaky stuff) and I'm trying to leave the design on as long as I can to get it darker. I think I would love to get tattoos like these one day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yesterday...I wove a Sunrise...It made me smile

A pictoral trip through my yesterday.


I call this pattern "Woven Sunrise." I thought it was a fitting craft for Imbolc.


I finally made a home for all the canning jars I've been collecting at the thrift stores this winter. I figure if I pick them up a few at a time when I can find them at the thrift stores, I'll be able to build my collection for .10 to .25 cents a jar instead of about .75 a jar like they are new. Hopefully I'll have enough jars by the time canning season comes along.


The cutest "green" shirt ever. Picked it up at the thrift store for my niece (who isn't born yet).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My adventure in Plantable Paper Making

I wanted to try making plantable paper for Imbolc. I have a papermaking kit I got at the thrift store last fall but I never seemed to have the time to use it. The other day I noticed the stores have started getting seeds in for spring, so I thought it might be fun to try making plantable paper. I bought a couple packets of forget-me-nots. This evening (if 2am can be called evening) I tried it. Since I couldn't dry the paper with the iron per the directions (I was afraid it would kill the seeds), I've got it laying out on some fabric. I wont really find out until tomorrow if it worked.

The things I learned tonight -

- papermaking is a lot harder (and messier) than I thought
- I probably shouldn't do projects that require the blender to run for long periods of time at night
- honey does not like being woken up by the blender in the middle of the night
- forget-me-not seeds are bigger than I thought
- I can mess up the kitchen a lot quicker than I can clean it up :) (actually I pretty much already knew that one)

All the paraphernalia associated with making paper. This was the point in the night when I figured out it was going to be messier than I expected.

A sheet of paper with forget-me-not seeds in it. It's still pertty damp but hopefully it will dry.

Sad Thought - Happy Thought

Sad Thought -

I just found out that Anchorage School District no longer has a Community Schools program. Sometime while we were stationed Outside the school district decided they didn't want to have any part in supporting the community schools program. They turned it over to a volunteer group. But the school district charged the volunteer organization so much to use the school facilities they couldn't afford to keep the program open. How lame is that? They used to have the greatest classes (all kinds of dance and martial arts, cooking, crafts, business). I was hoping to find a beginners canning class through community schools and now I'm just out of luck.

Happy Thought -

KeepMusicPagan's Channel on Youtube. Instead of sorting through pages and pages of search results on Youtube to find good pagan songs when I'm in the mood to put on something drummy and dance around (yes, I have now declared "drummy" is a word), I just pop on to KeepMusicPagan and find something that fits the bill.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

I recently found a copy of one of my old favorites at the Thrift Store. I first read this book in elementary school as assigned reading while we were studying Colonial America. I liked it so much I read it several more times while I was in school and each time I got something new from it. Rereading it again, I've been reminded how much this book influenced my worldview. The blatant xenophobia of the townspeople, the religious persecution of anyone with a different worldview, the sparks of friendship in unsuspecting places. I didn't realize it then but this book planted seeds in my head that helped create the accepting, adventuresome person I am today. Read it, let your kids read it, and then read it again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A pictoral walk through making crock-pot candles

My first adventure in crock-pot candles (as inspired by Bonzai Aphrodite) was more of a learning experience than a success. I needed to get the wax a little hotter before I mixed in the colorant so mine ended up pooled on the top of the candle. It looks kinda cool but not the effect I was going for. Today I tried again. Much better. (The lack of strong pain meds might have helped too.)

These are going to be the candles that mark North, South, East and West on our circle when we do ritual. The colored candles Honey usually gets are tall and thin and only fit in those tiny holders. I'm always afraid they are going to tip over. I though something short and fat like a votive would be sturdier and since they are inside their holder already ... no wax drips!


1) Get some containers (you probably have a few laying around or you can always get cheap empty candle containers at second hand stores) and clean them out (pry out the old wax with a butter knife and soap and hot water takes care of the rest)


2) Fill the clean, dry containers with soy wax chips to the brim (it will melt down)


3) Put the containers in the crock-pot. Make sure they are evenly spaced and not touching each other or the sides. (various directions differ but I don't put any water in my crock pot. I did the first time and it condensed on the lid and dripped into my candles)
4) Turn the crock-pot on high. Check in 20 min. (It will probably take a while to get up to temp. Just keep checking every once in a while)
5) When the wax has melted, you will probably notice that your candles aren't quite as full as you would like. Take a spoonful at a time of the wax chips and add it to your containers until they are full again.
6) Wait for the new wax to fully melt.


7) Once all your wax has been fully melted for a few minutes, you can add colorant. (I used the store bought cakes of candle color because I had them on hand but I've used crayons in the past with good results. Although I haven't tried them with soy wax yet) It's pretty hard to tell what your final color is going to be based on the melted candle so just use your best guess and remember soy candles tend to be creamy and lighter than you expect.


8) Stir the colorant. (I used different Popsicle sticks for each color).
9) Then leave the heat on and let the colorant truly melt in for about 10 min.
10) Stir the colorant again.
11) Turn off the crock-pot. (If you wanted scented candles this would be the point to add the scent. If it is the solid block type scent, make sure it melts completely into the candle)


12) Add the wicks and let the candles cool overnight in the crock-pot.
13) Trim the wicks.
14) Enjoy your pretty candles


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Root Canals and candles

Warning - Heavily medicated blogging ahead

Today I went to the dentist. Root Canal ensued. I tend to respond strongly to pain meds so I basically spent the afternoon passed out and now I'm wide awake.

So I'm following the directions posted on Bonzai Aphrodite to make Crockpot candles. So far so good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A lazy day with some crafty goodness

I've got a toothache and I want to curl up and die. Unfortunately, If I do curl up, all I can do is think about how much my tooth hurts and that I can't get into the dentist until tomorrow. So I spent most of today working on projects in a desperate attempt to distract myself from the throbbing on the side of my face :(

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread. This was kind of an expiriment since I didn't have all the ingredients. It tasted great though. I suprised Honey with it when he came home for lunch. It's a good thing I took this picture before the bread cooled and I flipped it out of the pan. It didn't last long enough after it cooled to take a picture.

The Bobbins I use for Viking Whipcord Braiding. Two people toss them back and forth in a pattern and can make cord. Honey made me these out of wooden balls and candlesticks from Michael's but I've done this braiding technique with water bottles and juice bottles as the bobbins too.

The finished cord. Enough for two necklaces.

I used blue and black for this cord. Blue for protection and Black for the absorbtion of negative energy. While Honey and I made the cord, we spoke words of blessing and protection for the people who will recieve the necklaces.
The finished product :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Decision to Study


I devoted four years of my life and quite a lot of money to learning about Christianity, only to realize that the more I learned about Christianity the more I knew it wasn't for me. I've been a Pagan for several years now. I've learned the basics of Paganism and some of its branches. I've read many books on the subject. However, reading the books is not the same kind of in depth study you do when you get a college degree in a subject. I've always been more comfortable discussing the minutiae of Christianity than the basic premises of Paganism. It's time to change that. I've decided to try an recreate the kind of study I embarked on in college as applied to Paganism. I hope to start with the generalities of Paganism as a whole and the philosophy and psychology behind the movement. Than focus on the different traditions that are practiced by individual groups within the movement. I'm going to take a ridiculous amount of notes as I work through the books (writing helps me remember what I learn).

I've found a Pagan Seminary that I would love to take classes from someday, but since our budget doesn't really have any wiggle room right now, I'm going to use their syllabi to help determine the books I use for my study.

My reading list so far -

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions
It seemed like a good general overview of Paganism to start my study with and has excercises and questions at the end of every chapter. (Plus I already own it) I'm only 24 pages in and already have 8 pages of notes. I'm really enjoying this book and have to limit myself so that I have time to process the new information.

Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion
One of the required reading books for the Cherry Hill Seminary. I don't own it as yet but was intrigued by the description and think it would be a good book to look into.

An Ye Harm None: Magical Morality and Modern Ethics
A discussion of the ethics of Paganism. Pagan ethics are a lot more situational and particapatory than the ethical structures of religions that give a "do this" and "don't do that" list of rules.

Drawing Down the Moon
I'm going to steal Honey's copy. I've heard several Pagans reference this book and it seems to discuss the history and origins of the movement and reasons behind the rise of Paganism.

I'll start my look at specific traditions of Paganism with Wicca since Honey is Wiccan and we already have a lot of books discussing it.

A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook
It seems to be an in depth look at the beginning of the Wiccan tradition. Some of the information might be dated and biased toward certain branches but overall a good source of information.

Crafting Wiccan Traditions: Creating a Foundation for Your Spiritual Beliefs and Practices
How to take all the dispirate elements of Wicca and personalise them into a system of belief that works for you.

I'm not planning on rushing through these books so don't worry if it takes months or even all year for me to get through the list. If anyone else wants to recomend books for my study, feel free. I would especially like recomendations of books that you think define any of the various traditions because I will be relying on others to guide me as to which books best define their traditions of Paganism.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Imbolic Art Card Exchange (you don't have to be artsy)

Come play with us and make an Imbolic Art Card to send to a fellow Pagan somewhere in the world. Follow the link to Jen's blog Chasing Domestic Bliss to sign up before Jan 22.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meet my lovely looms

You've already met my favorite loom. But I have a few others that were feeling left out.
The reigning favorite. I can both inkle and card weave on it.

The box loom I picked up from Lynn the Weaver as Estrella War.

The last of the looms hubby made for my class. He made a loom for each student and this was my demo loom. My honey is awesome.

Ashford Inklett with an altered stand. When I first bought this loom, I hated it. It was always tipping over during warping and while I was weaving it. A wonderful woodworker in the SCA made a new support for me and once I added that, it worked great and had a perfect handle to boot. This loom is the one I take to camping events and feasts.

The full size Ashford is not my favorite loom. It tends to twist as you warp it and put tension on it. You have to do a lot of extra steps to get the warp even. It does however have a nice long warp so sometimes I'm willing to jump through the hoops to get the extra length.

The copper loom I made for card weaving based on the directions I found at the WormSpit Blog. It is an awesome loom for card weaving a continuous warp. It's especially useful for two-way turning or double face weaving.

The 4 harness loom I bought on Craigslist. It needs a little repair work but we moved not to long after I got the loom and I haven't really had the time since. Hopefully I can get in touch with the local weavers guild soon and find someone to teach me how to warp it.

My last loom is my 7yd inkle loom. It looks like the one below from Thomas Creations. Unfortunately, it's not a very sturdy loom. When I warp it, it tends to bow extreemly bad unless I leave the tension so loose as to be almost non-existant. The Oak is only 3/4" and only half that at the joins so it just doesn't have the strength to handle a lot of tension. This last army move the loom was broken and I haven't had a chance to fix it yet. Honestly I'm going to try and reinforce it so it doesn't bow otherwise it's just not worth it to use it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Idiocy begets idiocy

Warning - Rant Ahead

Pat Robertson...Do I really need to say more? I probably don't but I'm going to anyway. He's an idiot. Not only is he an idiot but he's a misinformed, judgemental, beep, beep, can't-print-here descriptive beep. What kind of idiot tells a nation reeling from the loss of thousands of people that it's all their fault because their founders made a pact with the devil? Oh wait I already answered that question...Pat Robertson. Want to know what the supposed pact with the devil entailed? Here's the text of the supposed pact with the devil from the Bois Caïman ceremony that Robertson is referring too...

"The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man's god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It's He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It's He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men's god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all our hearts."

Doesn't sound like a pact with the devil to me. It sounds like a group of people who are being told that the "god" preached at them by the slaveholders created them to be slaves. I'd go looking for a better "god" too. I can see how 200 years ago narrow minded people with an interest in keeping the staus quo might spread the belief that the Haitian Revolution started with a pact with the devil but there is no excuse for a person in this modern age to spout this kind of drivel when 20 seconds on the Internet can give you the facts.

Matthew Yglesias Post

Bois Caiman Ceremony

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to my first love


I'd forgotten how much I love weaving. This summer I promised a set of Medieval garb as a wedding present to our best friend and her new hubby. Over Christmas they finally decided what kind of garb they wanted (Norse) and in what colors (pretty much blue and earth tones). Since I want it to be a really nice set of garb I'm going to weave all the trim. Last night I warped up my favorite inkle loom with the pattern I'd designed to use for their garb. (I'd forgotten how much I disliked working with wool). Since I need quite a few yards of trim for the outfits I'll be keeping this loom warped and weaving a couple hours a night while I watch TV until I have enough trim. There's something really relaxing about sitting in a cozy chair, passing a shuttle back and forth between the warp and watching cloth (really thin cloth in this case) appear.


(My favorite loom. It was my first loom that I picked up at a thrift store for $15 and I've never found one I liked better. I have looms that will take a longer warp but none that is so portable and easy to work with. I used to have an inkle loom with a 7yd warp but the Army movers broke it on the way to Alaska and I haven't been able to replace it yet)


(A bad picture of the design I charted out for this trim. I use an offset brick pattern for charting designs that best reproduces how the threads really line up. I get my graph paper from a free website that allows you to design your own.)


(The hopeful end product. Norse male and female garb. I usually wear Norse garb to medieval reenactment events. I know the male garb is not completely accurate but sometimes we have to make compromises to meet the needs of the recipient.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Place for Everything (I Wish)


Sometimes "a place for everything and everything in it's place" is just not possible. Sometimes we just have to accept "a place for almost everything and nothing too much in the way." That's the compromise I've had to make while organizing my craft room. The room's closet has the washer and dryer in it so I don't really have much storage in there. I've got a lot more of a fabric stash than I really want but since I've moved to a place where I don't have the same resources I used to, I'm not willing to get rid of it. I've been using the dining room for sewing but now that I've got the craft room cleared out I'll be working in there more. I'm excited to have my own (functional) crafting space.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A movie recomendation (and maybe a little pouting)

Pout, Pout Honey is gone again. This time for a week of training in Hawaii. Baby and I miss him. At least this time it's only for a week.

I spent most of the day working on organizing my craft room. When we moved into our house, I pretty much just put my boxes of craft supplies and fabric anywhere they would fit in the craft room. Since we jumped right into making the needed repairs on the house, I've never really gotten a chance to organize my supplies properly. Unfortunately, that means everytime I've needed something I've had to search for it which doesn't lend itself to keeping my craft room clean and organized. Since Honey's gone this week I'm going to make working on the craft room one of my priorities along with going out to spend a couple days out at my parents with my grandpa (who has Alzheimer's) so that Mom can have a break.

This evening I'm having a little bit of a girly night. ColdStone and a chick flick. I'm watching one of my favorite movies - Arranged. A young Muslim woman and a young Orthodox Jewish woman are first year teachers at the same school and strike up a friendship.

Update - The Chicken Stock came out beautifully. I left it on low in the crock pot all night and half the next day. Then I strained out the solid bits and put it in the refrigerator overnight so I could take out most of the fat. Now it's in the freezer waiting for my next batch of soup. I got about 12 cups of stock from things that I would have just had to throw away (or compost).


Pay-It-Forward Giveaway going, going, gone

I have my three participants for the Pay-It-Forward Giveaway. Thank you ~*L*~, Tracy, and June. I'll be starting on your crafty surprises very soon.

Pay-It-Forward Giveaway going twice...

I've got two participants so far in the pay it forward giveaway, ~*L*~ and Tracy. I have room for one more participant if anyone is interested. Just read the first post to get the details.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Chicken Stock

The Good -
We finally got back to work on the MIL apartment. Dad has Friday's off so he came over so we could start work on the plumbing in the MIL apt.

The Bad -
As we opened the door to the cellar under the MIL apt that holds our furnace, hot water heater, and the foundation of the plumbing for the entire house, we started to feel water hitting us. One of the really old pipes that we were hoping would hold up until next summer or fall had developed a pin hole leak that was spraying water all over my cellar. We don't know how long the pipe had been leaking since we rarely have to go down there. It's really frustrating since the leak could have happened at any time in the last 50 years (it was in the middle of a straight stretch of pipe and the weakness was probably in the pipe when it was first installed) but the leak waited until now. However, even when Mr. Murphy-I-had-a-law-named-after-me tries to beat me down, I always have Mr. Caffeinated Optimism to pick me back up. Since we were already planning on doing some plumbing, we just changed our focus. Dad and I and Honey ended up redoing all the foundational plumbing (cold in, cold to the house, cold to water heater, and hot out from the heater). We were able to add shut off valves in all the places they needed to be and get rid of the Hodgepodge of weird connections and pipes that no longer went anywhere that used to drive me crazy. It was a little frustrating and money for the MIL work will be tight this month since I spent most of it on our little plumbing adventure but I'm actually really happy to have all the pipes that are so important to our entire house redone and redone right.

The Chicken Stock-
Taking into account all the above Drama, when we all got hungry, none of us felt like trying to cook with no running water. I ran to the grocery store and grabbed a rotisserie chicken for dinner. After we ate dinner, I stripped the useful meat off the chicken for taco's tomorrow. Now I'm taking the leftover onion, celery, and carrots in the fridge that are just about at the end of their useful life, adding some spices, the chicken carcass and throwing it all in the crock pot overnight in an attempt to make my own chicken stock for the first time. Wish me luck. If it comes out OK, it will help to salvage a day that has otherwise gone completely off course.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm pretty sure my dog hates me (he's probably justified)

It's bad enough that I can't seem to clean my house without ending up wearing a belly dancing hipscarf and a tiara (no joke, I'm just weird). It's even worse that somehow in my latest cleaning endeavor my poor Baby ended up wearing a costume too.



OK in my defence this was actually the costume I found at the Thrift Store for Baby to wear on Halloween while we gave sweets out to the trick or treaters. Unfortunately, my MIL ended up coming home from the hospital that night and I missed all the trick or treaters. This week I've been tearing apart and reorganizing my craft room and happened to come across the costume (along with the aforementioned hipscarf and tiara) and wanted to at least see it on Baby.... Yeah, baby wasn't really impressed with my reasoning either.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just to make you wince...

We've all met one, the uber-Wiccan (if you haven't you, might want to check the mirror). It just goes to show idiocy knows no religion. I was a religion major so I pretty much see all religions through irony colored glasses, especially my own.

Also Something Positive is an awesome web comic. In a never has been and never will be PC sort of way. But start at the beginning.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pay-It-Forward going once ...

So far ~*L*~ at Out of the Blue has joined my Pay-It-Forward giveaway but I'm still hoping for two more participants. If anyone else is interested in joining the giveaway read the details in the first post, let me know you're interested in the comments and I'll send you a message to get the rest of the details I need.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Word ...

Several of the bloggers I read are doing something a little different for their new years resolutions this year. The concept is pretty simple. Instead of picking a bunch of new years resolutions and trying (usually unsuccessfully) to keep them you pick one word that you want to describe your new year. It took me a while to find just one word to describe all my hope for this coming year but I think I finally found it...


I'm going to resist the urge to clarify what I want this word to mean and just allow the word to sit here on my blog and in my subconscious and see what comes of it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fire and Ice Festival for New Years Eve

(A picture from last years festival I found online. Unfortunately, I was pretty cold and I didn't want to expose my camera to the elements so I didn't take any pictures)

We spent New Years Eve at the Fire and Ice Festival in downtown Anchorage. Lots of Fire Dancing, Fireworks, Ice Carving, and Skating. This year was the "Year of the Volcano" in honor of Mt. Redoubt's antics earlier this year and Hawaii's 50th anniversary. One of the best parts of the event was that it was totally free. Got to love fun activities that don't cost us a thing.

Tomorrow is Christmas at my parents. My brother was on the slope for Christmas and my sister took the only grand baby to his other grandparents home for Christmas so we decided to postpone the family Christmas until we could all be together.

Must learn Poi.